|A note for teacher users: These lessons are posted so that you may borrow ideas from them, but our intention in providing this resource is not to give teachers a word-for-word script to follow. Please, use this lesson's big ideas but adapt everything else. And adapt it recklessly; that's how you become an authentic writing teacher.
Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources:
Pre-step…before sharing the song: Note from Abby, this lesson's author: "I usually do this lesson following our Anne Frank/Holocaust Unit where students have already been studying a significant example of injustice in our world’s history. Students already feel fired up and outraged that such events could have occurred. Moving into an Injustice/Persuasive Writing Unit is a natural progression. This assignment will also require students to research a chosen topic so that they can find supporting details and facts to create a piece of writing that will persuade acall for action. I usually reserve some library or computer lab time for research."
Step one…sharing the song: Give students the following journal question:
According to Webster, the word “injustice” means: violation of right or rights of another. What does the word injustice mean in your own words? Can you think of any examples of injustice in our society? Have your rights ever been violated? Do you know anyone whose rights have been violated? Explain.
I have an “Accountable Talk” discussion about this journal topic with my students after they've written to it.
I then pass out the Where is the Love lyrics and this Four Square Notes organizer (I make this a double-sided handout). Students read the lyrics silently while the song is played from the iPod. After the song is played once, I play it again while students complete the Four Square Notes organizer.
After their four square notes are completed, students make a list underneath their notes of the things in this world that make them angry. We then make a class list on the board or overhead and students can add ideas from their classmates to their own list. I tell students that they will be choosing one injustice to focus on for their persuasive topic. I ask them to circle, highlight or put a star next to that topic on their handout.
Step two…introducing models of writing: In small groups, have your students read and respond to any or all of the student models that come with this lesson. The groups will certainly talk about the idea development, since it's the focus of the lesson, but you might prompt your students to talk about each model's voice as well.
WritingFix Safely Publishes Students from Around the World! In 2008, we first began accepting students samples from teachers anywhere who use this lesson. Hundreds of new published students now go up at our site annually!
We're currently looking for student samples for other grade levels for this lesson! Help us obtain some from your students, and we'll send you a free resource for your classroom! Visit this lesson's student samples page for details.
Step three…thinking, talking, and pre-writing: Now that students have chosen a topic and seen some models of writing, they need to begin thinking about what makes them angry about the injustice that they have chosen. Their anger will help prepare the passion that will hopefully come out in their essay.
I introduce students to persuasive writing by first playing an audio version of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech (of course!). I ask students what makes this speech so powerful? (repetition, specific and vivid details, metaphor, etc.) What is the speaker asking of the audience?
I ask students to copy down the definition of persuasive writing from the overhead in their notebooks and I go over “How to Write a Persuasive Essay.” I then give them an injustice pre-writing handout. I explain to them that Martin Luther King was angry about civil rights and racial inequality. Students should be inspired to be thinking about what makes them angry about their topic.
Before you go to the library or send kids out to research their topics, they need to think about what kinds of information they would need to look for to use as evidence or tools to persuade people to fight the injustice they will be writing about. That’s what the first side of this pre-writing handout is all about.
Students are now ready to begin their research for their topic. The research/prewriting graphic organizer is on the backside of the brainstorm. This will help them stay focused on Idea Development, and I give them this before we head to the library. I have students create a thesis statement for their topic. As we have practiced orally during “Accountable Talk,” their thesis statement can first be written as an “I believe because…” statement. (This can be reworked later). Students should also fill in three arguments that they have that support their thesis statement. These arguments will guide their research. The can take notes on facts/details/etc. that they come across during their research in the “supporting details” box.
Students should have been able to get some supporting details to support their argument against their chosen injustice topic. This is a good time to pause, and let students read and listen to the lyrics of Ben Harper’s Excuse Me Mr. I use this song during this unit because it helps students recognize different ways that anger can turn into passion for a topic. I have students complete this graphic organizer on the side of the lyrics to this song.
Students are now ready to begin drafting their persuasive essay. Because my students are 8th graders, I have them conform to a pretty scripted graphic organizer for a 5 paragraph essay. This can be changed or reworked to fit your classroom or focus. I give students the rough draft graphic organizer and make this a double sided copy. If students need more room to write, they can use their own paper.
Share Original Graphic Organizers (for Pre-Writing)
from Your Teaching Toolbox.
We share graphic organizers with our peers, we find them in books, and we think we should also be able to find tried-and-true ones online at WritingFix. This year, if you create an original graphic organizer (or adapt one of ours) when you teach this page's lesson, and post it, we might just end up publishing it directly here at WritingFix, and we will post it here, giving you full credit.
Original graphic organizers for specific lessons, like this one, can be submitted as an attachment a this link
Look for the "Reply to this Box" beneath the post. To be able to post, you will need to be a member of our free Writing Lesson of the Month Network